Implementation and Management Approach
Our goal is to bridge the worlds of theory and practice. E-government is a field in which practitioners and theorists need to address one another and share their respective insights. It is important to have clear conceptual frameworks for the analysis of e-government. It also is crucial that these frameworks rest on empirical analysis that actually shows what is happening and what problems need to be addressed.
We look at two cases in the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA) from the point of view of how are their I&R being improved by going online, focusing on how do they share their I&R information with their citizens through internet. Then we will find out whether computational linguistic resources strengthen the improvement or in cost or in satisfaction. Information and Referral (I&R) services provideÂ an important social function describing a unique process of assessment and information-giving that enables people to make informed choices regarding their particular needs and the services that might be helpful to them.
I&R specialists, who are typically public servants, combine skillful questioning and careful listening with sensitivity, support, and guidance to help callers "sort out" their situations and make reasoned and informed decisions. They will identify the agencies/services that are best able to meet the caller's needs and explain the potential outcomes of pursuing one option over another. It is a process that gives individuals a sense of control over their situation. Â After talking with an I&R specialist, individuals feel much better equipped to make what are often important life decisions.
Many I&R agencies collect data regarding the number and nature of the enquiries they receive, and the information that is used, as an aid to improving the service by identifying gaps in the information available. I&R staff record statistics frequently and forward the pertinent information to the appropriate agencies we take advantage of this practice in this study.
There are thousands of I&R programs in operation across Canada, the United States, and Europe. Â In the USA many of these are comprehensive, community-based programs. Others are specialized programs catering to the needs of particular social groups, such as seniors, people with disabilities, children and youth, etc. Â I&R service providers include non-profit agencies, United Ways, libraries, hospitals, and employee assistance programs.
The most widely accepted definition of I&R is: the active process of linking a person with a need or problem with a service which will meet the need or solve the problem
For example, this type of service would provide detailed information, including the contact information, mailing address, and telephone number for organizations that are able to provide childhood immunizations. There are three basic requirements for an I&R service: creation of a resource file (which we are going to refer as the database, or the I&R database); distribution of the information; and updating of the file. I&R services were originally created to serve the disadvantaged members of underserved areas, but few have actually served this type of population exclusively.
The majority of US and EU administrations are planning to go entirely on-line in the coming years. In such a service environment, on-line I&R services will become indispensable. Â Despite many current citizens being considered digitally illiterate, their collective knowledge and that of society as a whole is very much greater than what Â civil servants generally give credit for, and can be utilized in such a way as to answer many of the difficult questions directly (Howe, 2008). Â The revolution in service provision that we foresee is based on this, and is mediated by giving tools to citizens in terms of direct access to the I&R information, and letting them improve it.
Furthermore, the new trends of e-government suggest public services going online, referring e-government as the "provision of governmental services by electronic means, usually over the Internet". Garson assumes that e-government is a political curiosity that must be explored discursively with reference to big ideas about power, resources, control and bargaining. And this is our point: let the information in the administration stored in its I&R databases be shared with the citizens, who, as Howe claims, as a sort of insiders will contribute with their own experience, with information that will be highly valuable for other citizens, the ones who deserve such a service from their administration. And the benefits of sharing are immense, though the administration might feel some loss of control. For Garson it is clear that e-government will continue to evolve and embrace the crowd sourcing way of dealing with public information, and this is our point of view. Â Providing I&R services online is aimed at reducing the services' cost, while at the same time expanding their capabilities and effectiveness, as well as citizens satisfaction. Â These changes are discussed here.
A popular way of sharing inquiry-based, I&R information on the Internet involves listing FAQs and their answers on web pages or text documents. FAQ lists remain the most common way of providing answers to common questions online. Many internet-based organizations and corporations will first direct clients and citizens to a publicly available FAQ document before submitting questions to support personnel. This limits the number of redundant questions and reduces the resources spent on support personnel.
A FAQ document has several drawbacks in comparison to an interactive Question and Answer (QA) system. If the FAQ is too small, the questions are unlikely to cover sufficient breadth of the topic. A small size is positive in that it enables readers to quickly determine if their questions are covered. A large FAQ set, on the other hand, can be intimidating to read and is not always guaranteed to provide the correct answer. Sometimes, larger FAQ sets will be covered in several documents, each dealing with a more specific area or topic. This can provide some structural advantages, but makes it harder to search for specific keywords relating to a question, as the user may not be familiar with the hierarchy used to organize the FAQs. Another problem with a static FAQ set is that there is no straightforward way for an I&R specialist to determine the types of questions citizens are actually asking. This can be solved by providing some sort of feedback, such as email. However, the citizen typically looks for an immediate answer for their question and will search elsewhere before submitting any feedback. If feedback were to be provided, an administrator could theoretically refine the FAQs based on empirical knowledge as to the types of questions being asked most frequently.
One of the greatest drawbacks with static FAQ sets is that users are not given the option to ask free-form questions; rather, they are forced to re-phrase the question in such a way that it matches the information available. Since citizens can be considered a type of insider, they may best understand and answer the questions of other citizens, then we expect to utilize citizens to answer each other. If storing the questions and answers, will lead to complete FAQ sets that contain answers to virtually any question. A system that uses FAQ is combined with QA (question - answer) resources to conform a question answering machine shown in Fig. 5.
It allows people inside the organization to search for information; then, it allows citizens to participate in the information exchange process, by providing with any information that helps citizens with their day to day problems and enables them to fully participate as members of their democratic community. It is information pertaining to the availability of local services such as health care, financial assistance, housing, transportation, education and childcare services; as well as information on recreation programs, clubs, community events, and information about all levels of government. This is what is called community information (Pettigrew, 1996).
The CommunityAnswers Â of Connecticut also provides community information, though it does not have any self organized capability, so can be considered a directed community. We suggest that those communities which provide self-organizing capability to provide assistance to other members of the city/town, such as iSAC in Terrassa are much better in allowing citizens to freely interact. The question then becomes: how to empower citizens so that they generate the questions and answers that fill the FAQ?